Noah Isenberg is professor of culture and media at the New School. His latest book, We’ll Always Have ‘Casablanca’: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie, is due out from W.W. Norton in 2017.


Eavesdropping on Weimar

Lewis Stone as Dr. Otternschlag in Edmund Goulding's Grand Hotel, 1932

Beneath the layers of frothy dialogue about Weimar Berlin, Vicki Baum’s Grand Hotel contains a core of intense sociological and even philosophical reflections. Baum brought her readers into a complex, multi-perspectival world—in this case a luxurious, pulsating, yet vaguely tragic first-class hotel—in which they can eavesdrop on the conversations, and on the lives, of her characters.